June 23, 2020

Are Music Festivals Viewed From Cars Here to Stay?

June 13, a Saturday afternoon in heavy rain. A tower had been erected in a former quarry in Tochigi. The rain had already formed deep mud on the ground of the site. That tower was the DJ booth of a “drive-in festival” to take place that night.

Photo by Kiruke

A drive-in festival is a new idea for a music event amid the coronavirus crisis. As in a drive-in movie theater, cars are lined up facing the stage, and the audience stay in their cars as they enjoy the music from the DJ booth. The music plays through PA speakers on the stage, but it is mainly delivered through FM radios in the cars.

A kitchen car at the side of the site serves meals and drinks, and the audience can use a smart phone app to buy food and drinks.

The event started on time at 18:30, in the twilight just before sunset. A bouncy beat reverberated through the venue. The sound system announced “I don’t know how we can communicate, so please use your headlights and indicators to show you’re having a good time”, and the crowd responded by flashing their lights.

Photo by Kiruke

The greatest advantage of this kind of event is that participation involves no contact with other people, so the risk of spreading infection is low. Also, as everyone moves by car, the venue can be in a remote place with no public transport, and it’s easier for families with young children to attend together.

Drive-in festivals are a special form of event, created in response to the coronavirus crisis. They might disappear once the coronavirus chaos fades away. That transience is part of the appeal of these events.

Photo by Kiruke